11.30.2007

a few words about the Haughwout Building

I've always liked the Haughwout Building. I remember in the early '90s when it was ghostly and blackened and the clock face stood out sharply; I had sort of liked it that way. The original color of the building, as described in a contemporary account, was "Turkish drab" though now its a brilliant warm ecru. Today I went and took a few photos.

The store, numbers 488-492 Broadway, was built at the corner of Broome Street in 1856 for retailer Eder Vreeland Haughwout (evidently pronouned "HOW-out"). It was designed by John Plant Gaynor, who was inspired by the Sansovino Library in Venice, although if I'd read he'd been inspired by French pastry I would believe that, too. The facade,
one of two of the earliest surviving examples of cast iron architecture, is constructed from components fabricated by Daniel Badger's Architectural Iron Works and it is completely self-supporting. With 5 floors above ground, and 2 below, the building featured the first safely viable passenger elevator, by Otis. The elevator has long since been removed.

Like many of the retail "palaces" lining Broadway in the 19th century the store not only displayed and sold luxury items, it manufactured them as well. Haughwout's offered silver, antiques, bronzes, Parian statuettes and other goods on the main floor, glass, mirrors and china on the second , chandeliers on the third. Upper floors housed part of the manufactory with scores of women gilding and painting china, and men working on metalware. According to this site, Mary Todd Lincoln shopped at Haughwout's in 1861 and bought a set of custom china for the White House– an American eagle surrounded by a wide mauve border.

Saved from the path of Robert Moses' Lower Manhattan Expressway nightmare, the building was landmarked (surprising early) in 1965.

Top two illustrations from
Art and the Empire City, New York 1825-1861, Yale University Press and Metropolitan Museum; b/w images from Tom Fletcher's NYC architecture

19 comments:

Carl said...

Ah yes I knew the Otis elevator bit. Love this corner of NYC.

angela said...

yes, ok, but did u know how Haughwout was pronounced?

Anonymous said...

I am having lunch with Andrew Haughwout today. He pronounces it "howitt". My brother noticed his name on a document once and asked if it was pronounced "half-wit."

I will ask him about building.

Andrew Haughwout said...

The pronunciation "half-wit" is only for the uncharitable. I would have made you pay for lunch had I read this before we went.

angela said...

Haughwouts, Howitts, Hogwarts and half-wits-- how exciting it all is.

Andrew, are you a relation of THE Haughwouts?? More information please.

Andy said...

THE Haughwouts seems a bit much, but yes, I am somehow distantly related to Eder. Haughwout is an anglicized(!) version of the Dutch name that has been in NYC since it was New Amsterdam. We are also related to the Lefferts (the Lefferts Blvd ones). I have a second cousin named Lefford Haughwout. Now there's a name. The only realy famous relative is Robert Haughwout Jackson, who was Supreme Court Justice and chief prosecutor at Nuremburg. See http://www.roberthjackson.org/index.html

angela said...

I lived very near Lefferts Boulevard growing up....

Ah, the Dutch era of NYC-- what heady days those were: The Beekmans! The Depeysters! The Gansevoorts... But I am charmed to "meet" a Haughwout. Too bad you can't have a loft or two in "your" building.

Now I shall go learn a bit about yr relative.

Anonymous said...

Andy, I would have been happy to pay for lunch. I can see through a half-hearted anglicization, though, and assumed you wanted to go Dutch! (sorry).

Anyway, nice building!

Anonymous said...

Looking for Hagewouts oversea I stummbles on the Haughwoutbuilding. What a surprise. As a cultural scientist and historian I've heard about the building during my study, but I was never aware of the fact that it had something to do with my family history.
My mothers last name is Hagewoud. And we don't live in the USA, but still in the Netherlands. We are descendants of Hendrik Jans Hagewolt, brother to Peter Jans Hagewolt who sailed to Nieuw Amsterdam in 1660, together with his wife Femmechien Harms. The Lefferts, Haughwouts and I believe still Hagewolts are descendents from this Peter Jans.

angela said...

The Haughwout Saga continues-- how great to "meet" an overseas relation!
Hope you found some good information.

John said...

I hope I am not too late to connect with my distant relative from the Netherlands (sorry to commandeer the blog, Angela). My father is Peter Janse Haughwout, we are surely related. I'd love to get in touch off-line - please email at andrew.haughwout@ny.frb.org

peter haughwout said...

I am said father of Andrew Haughwout
and my wife and I rode in the original Otis elevator about 10 years ago...still working fine! We also had the pleasure of visiting Rouveen in Holland from whence our ancestor emigrated in 1660. Couldn`t find any relatives in the phone book though.
Incidentally, Eder Haughwout was an expert glass cutter and his creations are much sought after by collectors.
Peter Janse Haughwout

angela said...

I hope some connections were made with the "relative" from the Netherlands? Peter, I am very interested to hear you rode in the elevator!

I wonder who, if anyone, has documentation of the store... receipts, archive?

peter haughwout said...

I may have some more info about the store in a file cabinet somewhere...will look...I know I have several pounds of material re Eder Haughwout`s glass-cutting.
Rouveen is a neat little farming community w/ streets paved in brick and very tall elderly men and women riding around on large bicycles.
Peter Haughwout

peter haughwout said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Digger said...

The china service from Haughwout's was the one used by Obama for the Inaugural Dinner, or whatever it was called. It was really cool to see the entire setting on the table (film clip, not in person).

angela said...

Interesting tidbit about the china service! I will need to look for a clip to see!

Suzanne Bonilla said...

I am a Haughwout. The correct pronunciation is indeed Howitt.
I would love to know other Haughwout family members as I am the only one left of my immediate family.

Suzanne Bonilla said...


I am a Haughwout, Suzanne Haughwout Bonilla. The correct pronunciation is indeed Howitt.
I would love to be in touch with other members of the Haughwout family as I am the last from my family. Interestingly I had a brother named Peter who died several years ago.

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